Blame KT, tagged in a meme

This post is entirely KT’s fault. She tagged me in this writing process meme that’s floating around.

What am I working on?

Several things, all still codenamed. TopHat is somewhat stymied, I reached the point where things need to start collapsing in, and realized I had no idea how to put it together. Meanwhile, I was distracted by another plot bunny, Starboard, which is a Thai/Japanese inspired YA fantasy, though I may end up making it MG instead. They’re very different cultures, and I want to do them right,  even though it’s more inspiration than direct derivation. Thinking something like City of Dolls meets a grand epic. We’ll see, I’m only a chapter into it so far. I also have a side, experimental project I’m working on bouncing around, we’ll see if anything comes of that.

How does my work differ from others in its genre? 

 I like to think my interning gives me a bit of expanded perspective on the stories I want to tell. It’s not enough to just have this, that, or the other hot element, all the elements have to work together with tight pacing and fleshed out characters. It’s a LOT to balance, but I think it’s really helping me get a grasp of it. I see what doesn’t work on other projects, and I can (hopefully) apply those lessons to my own writing. 

Why do I write what I write?

Simple. There are books I want to read that aren’t out there yet. I try to write things that, if I saw them in a submission queue, I’d want to request, because they’re complex and developed. The worst things are stories where the concept promises something the story can’t deliver.

How does my writing process work?

I don’t have a set process. Generally, my writing is fit in between all the other things in my life. Most of the time, I get an idea and maybe a glimpse of the first scene, or of a pivotal scene. Initially, I often don’t know where it falls. For example, on Top Hat, I was washing dishes when I thought I saw something move out of the corner of my eye. That led me to the first scene, where the MC chases a demon who had been enslaved as a garbage disposal in her trailer. For Starboard, I was reading some Japanese mythology, and one of the stories made me think, how else could this magical artifact be used? What mythology could develop around it if this was their creation myth, instead of simply a side tale in a longer series? 

Once I HAVE the idea, if it comes with a scene, I write that bit until I can’t figure out what happens next. This sometimes results in me being up well past when I should go to bed, caught up in the flush of New Story. Otherwise, or once I hit that point, I let it simmer for a while. More often than not, weaker story ideas end here. I get ideas SO often, it’s a bit ridiculous, so any that sputter here I don’t worry about chasing. They’ll often add up into other, stronger ideas, or be forgotten. 

The ones that won’t let go I then go and try to outline. It’s taken me a LONG time to really be able to understand my stories enough to outline, but they save me a lot of work in the revisions. If SW had a strong outline, it wouldn’t be facing the kinds of edits it is. (Also, I think I missed the market window on that, actually. Teens with psycho issues and super powers has been done, repeatedly, since that was first written. Annoyingly.)

Once I have my outline, I work on it in fits and starts, as the time, energy, and enthusiasm allows. I generally have my outline divided by chapter, with rough “This because this, MC feels this, so does this.” kind of guides. Sometimes they fit, sometimes an earlier choice will alter it, and that’s ok. There’s a LOT of grumping to KT and bouncing of “Well, This that and the other happened, so maybe ??This??” at it, but she’s awesome and usually can see what I’m missing. 

I wouldn’t be still writing if it weren’t for KT. I would have given up many, many times over if not for her encouragement and belief in me. Even my current internship wouldn’t have happened if she hadn’t encouraged me to go for it and apply, among MANY other things. Sometimes, when I see what KT says about me, I’m amazed by it, because she believes in me far more than I have ever managed to believe in myself. I have to try to live up to the amazing expectations she sets, and that ends up with me pushing myself to be the best I can and then some.

 

Publishing is a frustrating process. It’s full of rejections, waiting, hopes raised and dashed. It’s not for the faint hearted, at all, but I really, truly believe anyone can make it if they work hard enough. Just keep at it. When skill, talent, and timing all combine, awesome and magical things happen.

 

Not tagging anyone specific. If you want to do it, DO IT! <3

Whoops, or an Unexpected Haitus

Oops. I really didn’t mean to ignore this. Things have been really busy around here, and I felt like I was repeating the same things here all the time. So I kept putting off posting.

Of relevant interests:
Internship is still going very well. I’ve gotten to the point where the agent I’m working for trusts my opinions, and has said several flattering things about me to a mutual friend which makes me VERY happy. I mean, everyone likes to think they’re good at what they’re passionate about. It’s a whole different thing though to have your boss (essentially) tell someone “Damn, she’s good! You’re so right!”. I’m enjoying the work I’m doing too, and I think my other self is getting a lot of good contacts from it. I also made a new local friend, which is really nice. We met up for coffee and it was non stop chatter excitement.

But yeah, that takes up even more time than it was. I’m hyper organized and I try to get everything done as quickly as possible, but she doesn’t really have time a lot to handle everything that really NEEDS her input. Like when I find what I think is an awesome MS, it can sit there for months before she gets around to even glancing at it. There’s several I was disappointed to see got offers elsewhere and went with them entirely because she didn’t get around to them before the deadline. I mean, I’m GLAD they got an agent, but I’m annoyed it’s not the one I’m working for.

It’s all a matter of finding what needs done, and not over committing yourself, I think. I have trouble with that sometimes. But with any luck, this is going to lead to something more.

Speaking of, I’ve been brainstorming a new project in conjunction with KT. Sitting out Writemotivation for June while I work on juggling things. July should be interesting, August is already promising to be a madhouse, and I have a major project coming up in September/October. Then November’s always insane, so’s December.

So basically, I might as well get used to this level of insanity. It’s par for the course. XD

March wrapup and April #Writemotivation goals

1. Read at least 5 published books. Ended up with 3. Because I was slammed with internthings.
2. Count how many partials/finished MS are read for my internship. -counting slushpiles- 441. Most of that was queries, fulls/partials= 15. I’ve also started working on a pet goal of mine with it, we’ll see what happens with that.
3. Finish a chapter of an in progress novel.-Still working on the worldbuilding and plot. I think I have the handle on it though.

*1 crit.

So onward to April’s goals!
1. Write 10k or more for Camp Nano.
2. Get all Intern things done within 2 weeks of them landing on my to do list. Stretch goal: 1 week. (Not counting things where I’m waiting on her. Entirely JUST what I’m responsible for.)
3. SEDER- Owen’s family seder is coming up, eek! I need to not only cook his allergy friendly things, but help with the music too, since the usual musically talented family members won’t be attending this year.
4. Read at least 3 books-Stretch goal: 5 books.

April promises to be VERY busy. Between my internship, dayjob, family events, and somehow shoehorning sleep in there, I’ll probably be scarce on social media. Anything important/that you want feedback on, let me know.

#Writemotivation update 3/24

1. Read at least 5 published books. Ugh. 3. You’ll see why.
2. Count how many partials/finished MS are read for my internship. -counting slushpiles- 373. Most of that was queries, fulls/partials= 11. That slushpile= Why I’m not getting much of anywhere on my published reading. Granted, my main task is to take what they’ve decided and send the resulting email, either No or Send more. But I’m reading them over. Thus far there’s only been a few I’ve disagreed with and thought it should be send more that wasn’t. I have wiggle room for those to request them anyway, and see if maybe something is awesome enough to go “Oh, dude, you have to read this!”)
3. Finish a chapter of an in progress novel.-LOL No. But I’ve been working on world building something new.

*1 crit.

So yeah. Other me was helping with a BIG project that took up most of the last 2 weeks. Great experience, and I think Other me made a few friends in the process. It’s so strange, though, to have people looking at me like I have all the answers. I mean, I do, but mostly because I’ve been doing all this for a while. I started reading blogs about publishing back when I was working on my first novel, which was over a decade ago. I don’t know why you wouldn’t. This industry’s hard enough without reinventing the wheel. Give yourself every advantage you can, and with the sheer volume of knowledge freely available to you, there’s simple mistakes you just shouldn’t screw yourself by doing.

So for once, I’ve actually been able to stand watching a couple movies: Frozen and Catching Fire. Ok, I wasn’t JUST watching the movies, because let’s face it, I’d get fidgety in two seconds flat if I didn’t have something to do with my hands. But mostly paying attention while doing minor tasks on the computer like grocery shopping works for me. I can see why Frozen’s so popular. The music is catchy, and for once, most characters have complex motivations. Catching Fire was ok, but I wasn’t enthralled by it the way I was the first one. Not looking forward to the way it splits Mockingjay into 2 movies, that’s just moneygrabby. But I’ll probably watch it anyway. Just.. on DVD, not in theatres. (Granted, I prefer it. By the time you get to the theatre, park, it’s a bother, and tickets+concessions= the price of the DVD anyway.)

#Writemotivation 3/9 update

1. Read at least 5 published books. Finished Burning Obscura and then devoured Solving for Ex. 2 books down, 3 to go. (It helps my internship wasn’t that busy this week. I literally had NOTHING to do Saturday for it except send a few rejections.)
2. Count how many partials/finished MS are read for my internship. -I also got to slush dive through her pile this weekend. Not sure if I should count those too or just requested things, but since that took up the majority of my Sunday time, I think I will. Counting those- 54 total. 2 of those were fulls. 41 of those were queries, 7 resulted in requests. Which is probably more than she’d prefer, but they very much sounded up her alley.
3. Finish a chapter of an in progress novel.-Worked on the outline instead, I’m reaching a point where I need to start laying the groundwork for the
And a crit.

Phew! I have a Big Project this week, so don’t be surprised if I’m not around much.

Also, if you’re querying: Don’t be insane. Don’t write your query in your character’s first person POV. Don’t query an already self published work (and include the Amazon or Kickstarter links). Don’t pick random chapters from the middle of your novel to include instead of the first few. Don’t bother putting it ATTN: AGENTNAME. It has no impact on if the agent or the intern is going to be the one looking over the slush at any given moment. Do make sure the agent even reps whatever you’re pitching. If it’s a creepy as hell adult novel, don’t send it to an agent who specializes in kids cute picture books/MG. Their interns probably don’t need the nightmares. Don’t email just to ramble and not say anything about the book itself.

I’m beginning to understand why agents/editors have a reputation as big drinkers and chocolate fiends.

Remember, folks. Your query letter is a business introduction. They want to know about your story in a clear and concise way. Everything else is secondary to that. Include their specified amount of pages, pasted in unless told otherwise in their submission guidelines. Yes, I know your novel is a special snowflake, and as a writer myself, I do understand how difficult it is to condense that 100k brilliant manuscript into a short email. But if you can’t manage that? They assume your story is likewise just as rambly and incoherent, and it’s an easy choice to pass. You want to give them a reason in their already crowded and hectic lives to care about your story. You want them to go “Ooh, I have to have the rest of this!”. The easiest answer for them to give is no. Give them a reason to say Yes.

#Writemotivation, Communication, and OWM

So, new month, new goals, and a few changes.

February was a rough month all around for people. I was just busy. The busy isn’t a bad thing, don’t get me wrong. I prefer being busy. I’m more productive the more I have to do. It’s more that, when I’m busy, I feel less social. Others had it far worse, and I feel like I neglected people a lot in trying to juggle it all. So if you’re feeling ignored or neglected, *HUGS* first, and I’m sorry. Please poke me and say hi when you have a few minutes to chat, I have time for you.

And I’m not the only one busy, lately. Becca and KT are too, so we’re pausing OWM for this month (and possibly April as well) to give us all time to catch up. We’ll reevaluate it once we feel we have time to deal with it. I enjoy writing the stories and reading what they write, though, so don’t worry. Busy or not, I’m sure we’ll find a way to make it work. It just might mean a revised posting schedule or something. We’re working on it.

Meanwhile, March’s goals.
1. Read at least 5 published books. Stretch goal: 10 (My poor reading time is mostly eaten by internship things, and I’ve had trouble finishing books lately.) Still reading Grasshopper Jungle for the LGBT challenge, but I’ve mostly switched to Burning Obscura, it’s at least more clearly written. The style on Grasshopper Jungle is close to making it a DNF, but I want to finish it anyway. I’m half done. We’ll see.
2. Count how many partials/finished MS are read for my internship. (No stretch goal for this one, it relies too much on factors outside my control.)
3. Finish a chapter of an in progress novel.
I didn’t put walking on there anymore. There’s no point, I walk to work all the time. Same with Crits. I don’t anticipate having any to do this month, though that’s always subject to change if anyone has anything and asks. I CAN make room if you want.

<3

Feb 24 #Writemotivation update

1. Keep up the walking/crits/reading.- Walking’s a duh, I’m not even putting it on here anymore. Crits- None currently Reading- Mostly intern stuff: 5 of those to 100%, 4 published books. The GLBT one I was reading, Grasshopper Jungle, is… well, strange, rambly, and honestly a bit of a mess. I just haven’t had enough time to read for fun, though, so not finishing that likely this month. (What you don’t see in here: 45 partially read between Jan/Feb, to various amounts. All past the first chapters, some to like 75%, some to only 25% or less.)
2. Finish the current set of projects for the internship.- Did, and almost done with the next set. Whoot!
3. Write one chapter on a current project.- Uhm… No. Oops.
4. Write my OWM story for next month and edit this month’s.-Partiall written next month’s, need to figure out an ending on that.

It’s been really busy at my dayjob lately, they’re trying really hard to meet some quarterly goals that were a bit overzealous, so I haven’t had much time to work on my own projects. Combine that with being utterly exhausted afterwards, and most of my work is getting done in the mornings before the dayjob and on the weekends.

I find it interesting, though. There’s been a lot of buzz because some SFWA guy made some really sexist comments. He’s since apologized after he was repeatedly called out, but this led to a great number of discussions about how women/POC writers are largely ignored by booksellers and how ingrained this discrimination is, to the point of almost subconscious blinders. It made me wonder though: I keep hearing that scifi is dead, no one wants to buy scifi, etc. How much of this is because women (who are generally reputed to make up the majority of the reading populace) see these stories as not being targeted at them. Looking at the top best selling scifi books on Amazon, do you notice anything? Of the top 20, there’s 1 book written by a woman. 4 in the top 50. 10 in the top 100. (Granted, there are repeat/duplicates in there for mutliple editions and some box sets. I’m also not trying to figure out for initial names if they’re a guy or a girl. This isn’t a full on study, just a quick assessment.) Of those, many of the ones with women writers have covers that are extremely feminized vs their male counterparts that mostly focus on ships/worlds/epic sized things.

But wait. What about YA Scifi? Because the thing is, YA doesn’t segregate (at least most of the time) different genres apart. Contemporary is mixed in with scifi, mixed in with fantasy, mixed in with paranormal and dystopians. The trend is reversed. It’s mostly women. Top 20: 20 women. top 50:41 women. Top 100: 82 women. Hmm. So judging by this (admittedly, very limited) glimpse? It’s not that women don’t write scifi. It’s that we’ve (either by choice or market pressure) sold mostly YA Scifi.

Granted, there is overlap. A few books appear in both the YA and adult scifi lists. Some books are listed multiple times due to different editions. And like I said, I wasn’t bothering to sort out the initials genders (The whole point of using initials in a pen name is to avoid disclosing your gender at all, therefore I’m considering them gender neutral.) We also have no way to know how this translates into actual units moved and real money for the publisher/author. Some of these books have tens of thousands of reviews on there. Others only hundreds. Trust me, if I ever get access to real, solid numbers, I will be a VERY happy camper. (That’s the subject of a whole different rant!). This also doesn’t separate out self vs traditional publishing, I suspect that would be interesting to look at too.

The reasons are complicated. It’s a self fulfilling feedback cycle. What’s selling as adult scifi is mostly male written, so what’s being promoted is mostly male written, so what’s being acquired is mostly male written, because that’s what sells. It’s why everyone and their cousin says scifi doesn’t sell, when it really just shoehorned itself into a corner. Meanwhile, you have the YA market exploding with scifi (and dystopian, which until about 5 years ago was still lumped into scifi entirely.), and yet “scifi doesn’t sell”.

And this, folks, is why adults read YA. When you stop publishing what people want to read in Adult, we’ll find our stories where we can get them, even if there are annoying constant love triangles in there as a result.

Feb 17 #Writemotivation update

1. Keep up the walking/crits/reading.- Walking’s a duh, except our snowday Thursday. Crits- None currently Reading- More partials for my internship, so far this month 3 of those to 100%, 4 published books (The Murder Complex was great! Didn’t break any moulds, but was a quick read with great pacing!)
2. Finish the current set of projects for the internship.- Finished that set!!  The other bunch of partials, requested about 10 of those 23. (At some point, I need to crunch some numbers to see what percentage of total projects actually get my thumbs up. So far it’s something like 3/34. Which is not bad, all considered. Interestingly, all 3 were thumbed up for different reasons.)
3. Write one chapter on a current project.- Pending. I haven’t taken the time to fix this chapter. Heh. I should do that. We only have this week and next week left in the month!
4. Write my OWM story for next month and edit this month’s.- Edited (and posted) this month’s, still need to work on March’s. Maybe I’ll do some of that today. Since it’s presidents day and we had off, I have free time today.  (Yeah, I blame Philly. I’ve never gotten it off before anywhere else!)

Other than that, finally finished the post I was writing about ALA and other trends. It’s really hard sometimes to distill multiple days of observations (and books) into compact bits, so if anyone wants any elaboration/has specific areas they want to know if I saw anything about, let me know, I’m sure I didn’t cover everything I noticed.

Meanwhile, I’m taking advantage of the quiet of everyone else being out to get some work done. :D

ALA thoughts, trends, and other observations

*Diversity- I can’t emphasize this enough. Every single book buzz session I went to had multiple books they said, “This will particularly appeal to (specialized groups)”. Some examples for you: Children with military parents, *insert race here*, children with divorced parents, low income households, GLBT, etc.

*Genre mixing- It’s not enough to be a paranormal YA. One book was described as a mystery-dystopian-historical-ghost story middle grade. Yeah. Dystopian is still going strong, but WITH other elements. Dystopian+history, dystopian+fantasy, “reverse dystopian”. There’s a mould. Twist it into something fresh, especially in MG/YA where figuring out where in the bookstore/library to shelve it isn’t then a problem.

*Conversely, I saw almost NO hard scifi. There was one at… Randomhouse, I think it was, where I saw a very geeky-looking gentleman supervising a table of quite a few different ARCs. As I tend to do, I asked if he had any hard scifi. (Side note: I really, really love true hard scifi. Give me the gadgets and let’s talk about what makes it tick!) He suggested this one, something about a guy stranded on Mars (I forget right now), and how he struggles to survive. Yeah, I pressed, but is it hard scifi or David Brin pulling vampires out of his ass in the middle of an alien invasion “scifi” (Yes, I’m still bitter about that. The book was going SO WELL until SUDDENLY, VAMPIRES! Pretty much turned me off his writing, because that was the most blatant Deus Ex Machina I’ve EVER seen outside of anime.) The guy stammers and fumbles and goes, “Well, no, not really, but it’s really funny!”

Yeah.

(OK, I grabbed it anyway, because I felt bad for Awkward Man. We’ll see if when I get around to reading it if the book can overcome a REALLY bad sales rep) 

*For MG particularly- Historicals that draw a connection to the modern in some way (celebrating the 50th anniversary of Some Event)/timeliness. Emphasis on how that can be incorporated into standards. (Tangent: I don’t understand the whole common core thing, I suspect many poor teaching methods aren’t helping the situation. But I also know that my schools in TX sucked in comparison to the ones Owen and a local friend went to, so attempting to improve the school system is always a great thing!)

*I am so slowly getting a dent put in at least some of the ARCs. Apologies, I haven’t forgotten those I’ve promised books to, working on it. :) The post office isn’t along the route I’ve been taking to work with all the bad weather (subway tunnels!), and I keep forgetting to go on the weekends.

Twitter trends:

Lately, there’s been quite a few tempests in teapots I’ve watched swirl around in author/writing/publishing circles. Authors unhappy with their publisher, publishers treating authors poorly, authors treating fans poorly, fans bashing publishers for not making the choice they wanted…. Look, people. It’s a nasty world out there. It’s a bit of a joke that all agents and editors do is sit around drinking on the company dime, but it’s true that they do spend a lot of time building relationships. I made a point at ALA to introduce myself to a few of the editors at houses I’d absolutely die to work at someday, because it’s always possible something might open up there and if I apply for it, I’d rather my name sound at least a little familiar to them. Are there bad publishers/bad editors/bad agents out there who will screw their clients, either intentionally or from simple lack of skill? Sure. Just like you have bad dentists who claim a 4 year old needs 26 cavities filled and 5 root canals because they waved a wand over the teeth and it detected them. But there’s a fine line between educating and mud slinging. Don’t get wrapped up in any tempests. I think we all have a list of people we enjoy working with and people we would not like to work with, based on the experiences we’ve heard from others. It’s a community. Even being in the shallows of it all, I hear things I am sworn to secrecy about. There are times where I want to say a million things more than I do, but I bite my tongue. Stirring the teapot won’t turn it into a cauldron.

But.. Just be careful out there. When you’re considering working with someone, observe how they treat others, especially when the other person points out a flaw/weakness/concern. If an author can’t take feedback and replies with anger (It’s understandable! But send that email to your crit partner instead, that’s what they’re for!!), it just makes them look bad. Walk away. Don’t get involved. Remember, ultimately, it’s a business. Act professionally. If you wouldn’t say it to your boss at your dayjob, don’t say it to an agent/editor/author. Be constructive in your feedback, and write it after your emotions have time to cool. No one wants to work with that person who lashes out every time someone disagrees with them, or tries to bully people into doing what they want, or an author who’s a diva to work with.  Don’t be one of those people. Trust your gut. If something doesn’t feel right, get a third opinion, sleep on it, and see how you feel in the morning. There are dishonest people out there, and that’s why places like Writer Beware exist. But keep your eyes and ears open and your mouth shut,  and you’ll learn far more.  ;)

Feb. 10 #Writemotivation

1. Keep up the walking/crits/reading.- Walking’s a duh. Crits- Will have more to do on that shortly. Reading- More partials for my internship, so far this month 1 (January ended up at 8). Clearly, my internship is reducing my reading time. I’m ok with this as long as I still get over 100 published books read this year. (Also, I started Lindsey Cumming’s The Murder Complex this weekend. OMFG this is already kicking ass!)
2. Finish the current set of projects for the internship.- ALMOST done with that pile. I have … 1 I sent to bossagentlady with a “read me!” note, one I’m going to tell her “Read but here’s all the problems with it and I mostly want to see if you think it’s worth the effort to fix”, one I’m like, “I see these flaws with it, but I suspect you’ll like it anyway.” and one that I’m probably sending a “No” note on because there are too many eyeroll inducing things involved. And another pile of work landed this weekend (YAY!), mostly partials, one delayed full from that bunch that I’m REALLY excited about and hopeful for. Like… If it lives up to the pitch, I will sing their praises to the rooftops. Ties into last post, somewhat, and I’ll just leave it at that. We’ll see, I’ve only gotten a couple chapters in so far.
3. Write one chapter on a current project.- Pending
4. Write my OWM story for next month and edit this month’s.- Glanced over this month’s tonight, didn’t really see much to change. So letting it stew again a couple days. I’m not happy with the ending yet. It’s missing something, and I’m not sure what. Well, no. I know what. I’m just not sure if I want to spell it out or leave it for the reader to infer. I’m not sure it’s obvious enough that they’ll infer what I want when the standard defaults are different… Playing with tropes and expectations a bit. It’s always fun.
Haven’t had time to work on next month’s yet. Soon.

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